North East architects celebrate awards double

North East architects celebrate awards double

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Katie Shepherd (left) Tanja Smith (right)

Gradon Architecture is celebrating a double victory after two of the team scooped top titles at this year’s Women in Construction Awards.

Technical Director, Tanja Smith took home the Outstanding Woman in Construction award, while Associate Architect Katie Shepherd won Mentor of the Year.

Tanja won the title of Outstanding Woman in Construction after recently returning from Ulan Bator, where she has lived for the last two years while establishing the practice’s Mongolian operations. Her time in the city saw her establish and manage the Mongolian team, while overseeing a number of large-scale projects across the rapidly developing city.

Katie, who has been with Gradon Architecture for three years won the title of Mentor of the Year having played a significant role in developing and nurturing emerging talent within what is now an established and experienced Gradon team.

Following on from her win, and sound in the knowledge that she has achieved her goals, Katie is now moving on to a new role in architecture to pursue other challenges.

The Women in Construction Awards, now in its 11th year, was established to champion women carving career paths for themselves in what is often seen as a typically male environment, as well as recognising the organisations and companies enabling them to do so and helping to level the playing field.

Tanja Smith, who is also a representative for the National Association for Women in Construction (NAWIC) in the North East, said: “I’m delighted to win the Outstanding Woman in Construction award this year. It really means a lot to have my achievements with Gradon Architecture recognised on a national scale and against such tough competition.

“Gradon is a forward-looking practice and I’ve been lucky enough to take advantage of some really great opportunities that have come my way because of working at such a supportive organisation. The lack of leading female figures in UK architecture is well-documented and I feel like at Gradon we are ahead of the game on this.”

In their summing up, the Awards judges noted that Tanja “repeatedly breaks down barriers, through practice and profession she has been recognised on many occasions where previously no women have been awarded such recognition.  Her drive to develop new business and the professions, through her work with others is outstanding”.

Graham McDarby, Managing Director and founder of Gradon Architecture, said: “It is fantastic that both Tanja and Katie have won these prestigious awards while working with Gradon Architecture. These awards are testament both to the hard work and dedication of them both, as well as our own commitment to enable our people to thrive.

“As a practice we do the utmost to enable all of our staff to grow and achieve their ambitions within the field, providing opportunities for career development at every stage. I’m delighted at Katie and Tanja’s success and am proud to have established a culture that enables both women and men alike to thrive and progress their careers.”